How to connect sewer line to City main?

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Michael Bluejay

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Tree roots got into my 1965-era iron sewer pipe so I'm replacing everything from the house to the street with 4" Schedule 40 PVC.

I've trenched out to the City main and it appears that the connection of the old sewer line was made with concrete.

How do I make the new connection? Chisel out the existing concrete, pull out the old cast iron pipe, insert the new PVC, and pour new concrete around it?
 

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John Gayewski

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I think I would cut the cast iron pipe and hook your pvc directly to it (with a fernco). Then just extend their concrete collar and encase your new connection.

The most important thing when doing what your doing is to install cleanouts that extend to grade. This way when tree roots or anything happens again, you'll have access to clean the piping from the yard. No reason to bring a sewer machine into the house again.
 

Michael Bluejay

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Thanks all.

I have a cleanout just outside the house, so there was easy access for the machine.

I'd really like to replace 100% of the cast iron, not just 99.9% of it. I'll see what the City says.
 

Jadnashua

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Where I live, you need a special plumbing license to connect to the city sewer system, but you can run the pipe up TO it yourself.
 

Nathan Seaver

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I'll see what the City says.

This is the correct approach. Every utility is different.

Some utilities handle all work inside the right of way. Others require the property owner to do all the work up to the mainline. Either way, it is unlikely (but possible) you will be allowed to work directly on the sewer main, which is commonly managed by the wastewater utility.

If the connection at the mainline is structurally sound, messing with it is not usually advisable. A proper connection using an approved coupler to an existing pipe that is in good condition is often safer and more reliable than changing the connection at the main on aged pipe.

Additionally, the coupler allowable will vary from utility to utility. We require rigid couplers within the right-of-way, which means the aforementioned Fernco fitting would likely not be permissible at the location shown in your photo. However, many utilities still allow Fernco style adapters.
 

Jeff H Young

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yep pull your permit first and go through proper procedure , get both of your agencys involved.
I woulda had it done befor 7 am monday and buried
 

Michael Bluejay

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Thanks all for the replies. Here's what I found:

(1) If the job goes into the right of way, a permit is required, and I have to use one of the special contractors who are authorized to work in the right of way.

(2) There are only like 5 plumbers in Austin, TX with that authorization, out of dozens and dozens of licensed plumbers. That's after I found the City's list of such contractors on their website, which they do an excellent job of hiding. And once you find it, plumbers are lumped in with concrete specialists, GC's, etc. And there's zero contact info for any of them.

(3) Only one of those five plumbing contractors has only a minor percentage of negative reviews on Yelp. Two of them have a non-trivial percentage of negative reviews, and two don't have any reviews at all.

(4) I wrote the first two to request a bid. One wrote back and quoted $3350, even though I made it clear that I've already done all the trenching and can backfill myself. The other didn't reply at all.

(5) That contractor who replied did offer that "We would typically cut the concrete pipe before the bell in your photo, and install a concrete to pvc shielded coupling." But there is no concrete pipe, it's cast iron, as I said in my email message. While I'm curious about how he'd handle the connection with the cast iron, I'm loathe to ask for clarification because I'm not going to hire him, because $3350 is too much to stomach, so how he'd handle the connection is moot. Instead, I'll cut the cast iron pipe right before the right of way and connect my new PVC to the old cast iron with a flexible coupling, so no permit is needed.
 

John Gayewski

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Encase your connection in concrete or flowable mortar. Up to their little entombed thingy they have. That way there's essentially no cast iron anymore. What little cast is left is encased in concrete and ridgid and won't be effected by external forces.
Thanks all for the replies. Here's what I found:

(1) If the job goes into the right of way, a permit is required, and I have to use one of the special contractors who are authorized to work in the right of way.

(2) There are only like 5 plumbers in Austin, TX with that authorization, out of dozens and dozens of licensed plumbers. That's after I found the City's list of such contractors on their website, which they do an excellent job of hiding. And once you find it, plumbers are lumped in with concrete specialists, GC's, etc. And there's zero contact info for any of them.

(3) Only one of those five plumbing contractors has only a minor percentage of negative reviews on Yelp. Two of them have a non-trivial percentage of negative reviews, and two don't have any reviews at all.

(4) I wrote the first two to request a bid. One wrote back and quoted $3350, even though I made it clear that I've already done all the trenching and can backfill myself. The other didn't reply at all.

(5) That contractor who replied did offer that "We would typically cut the concrete pipe before the bell in your photo, and install a concrete to pvc shielded coupling." But there is no concrete pipe, it's cast iron, as I said in my email message. While I'm curious about how he'd handle the connection with the cast iron, I'm loathe to ask for clarification because I'm not going to hire him, because $3350 is too much to stomach, so how he'd handle the connection is moot. Instead, I'll cut the cast iron pipe right before the right of way and connect my new PVC to the old cast iron with a flexible coupling, so no permit is needed.
 

Reach4

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. Instead, I'll cut the cast iron pipe right before the right of way and connect my new PVC to the old cast iron with a flexible coupling, so no permit is needed.
I expect that tree roots got in due to a joint rather than penetrating the cast iron. Therefore I would not view this as a way to get rid of cast iron, but rather to get rid of joints.

I suggest you measure the cast iron you will connect to carefully. I would get a long-reach caliper.
63714_I.jpg



These are some higher-end couplings for your underground connection.

These are good shielded couplings for underground. https://www.fernco.com/plumbing/shielded-couplings/5000-series-rc-couplings
 
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Jeff H Young

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plumbers per say dont really go in street here it takes an engineering license.
You asked city building department about whether you need a permit? Personal I wouldnt ask but we require it even on our own land and the connection on city side would be additional. But If I had it dug out Id take pictures and bury it on the weekend because it was an emergency. wink wink! Safety cant leave an open trench ! plus who wants to pay 3 grand
 

Michael Bluejay

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Here's an update: Excavating the city's RCP a little more, I found that there were roots wrapped completely around one section like a boa constrictor, with the concrete obviously broken. I thought that would still be my responsibility to fix, because in my city the homeowner is responsible for other things in the city's right of way (like trimming trees/plants that encroach on a sidewalk), but my wife, who is smarter than me, said I should call to double-check, so I did, and they city said that's their deal, and in less than twelve hours they completed the repair, cutting off the RCP beyond the broken part, installing a two-way 6" SDR cleanout, and connecting to my existing cast iron with a Fernco flexible coupler.

BTW, the pro plumber who bid $3350 told me in no uncertain terms that I needed a shielded coupling, but the plumbing supply house didn't have a concrete-to-plastic shielded coupling in the right size (6" ID/7.9" OD RCP to 6" ID SDR); possibly it's not manufactured by anyone. Then when the city came out, they installed a regular unshielded coupling anyway.

I got a look at the RCP they took out. In the first pic, the black matter around the wall of the pipe is tree roots, leaving only a tiny channel for wastewater. In the other pic, on the right of the concrete is what remained after the concrete was removed: roots in the shape of a pipe. Wild.
 

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Jeff H Young

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Thanks Michael, Glad it worked out. Its crazy how each area is differant on how they want things done who is responceable if you have to hire a contractor or sewer agency has thier crew take over. In various citys ive worked they all do whatever they want many are helpful some not so much.
So how far after point of connection did they go? I didnt even see roots in original picture. The bands the 3500 guy wanted Im not familiar with , Ive always used a band like a fernco I think we used mortar a time or 2 but that was a repair.
Not often have I had a city require me install a cleanout at property line on house side. good idea though
 

Michael Bluejay

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Thanks Michael, Glad it worked out. Its crazy how each area is differant on how they want things done who is responceable if you have to hire a contractor or sewer agency has thier crew take over. In various citys ive worked they all do whatever they want many are helpful some not so much.
So how far after point of connection did they go? I didnt even see roots in original picture. The bands the 3500 guy wanted Im not familiar with , Ive always used a band like a fernco I think we used mortar a time or 2 but that was a repair.
Not often have I had a city require me install a cleanout at property line on house side. good idea though
The roots were indeed not visible in the original picture. Once I excavated just a few more inches, then the roots were visible.

I didn't watch the whole process, but I think the City took out at least 4-5' of RCP.

The new cleanout is in the right of way, not on my property. When a new home is built, the builder has to install it. But if the City's pipes break and there's no cleanout, then the City installs the cleanout when they replace the pipes.
 

Michael Bluejay

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Here's the pic showing the roots wrapped around the pipe, before it was removed.
 

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Jeff H Young

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Sounds Like a good city Michael. I had one city require me install a cleanout one foot from edge of property that way it belongs to the customer and thier responceability to repair or replace if broken. and nearly all citys Ive worked we install cleanout just outside the house and if not excessive distance or changes of direction no other clean outs .
 
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